First Student Confirmed for University of Derby Women’s Football Scholarship
The University of Derby is helping Olivia Fox, a young woman from Kent, fulfil her footballing dreams by investing £27,750 in her education over the next three years while she plays for Derby County Ladies.
The Derby Ladies Scholarship programme, launched last November with the support of Kelly Smith, England’s record goalscorer, and Jacqui Oatley, the TV presenter, is a joint venture between the university and the football club.
Fox, 18, from Folkestone, has just been announced as the first scholar to benefit from the pioneering scheme. The defensive midfield player will move to Derby in the summer to study on the country’s only Football Journalism undergraduate degree course while playing for both Derby County Ladies and the University of Derby women’s football team.
DCL are currently playing in the FA Women’s Premier League, the third tier of the sport, and will hear in May hear whether they have been accepted into the inaugural Women’s Super League Championship. Either way, Derby Ladies are a club on the up and from next season will start training at Derby County Training Centre (in partnership with the University of Derby) alongside the men’s teams.
Fox said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity to join a club like Derby County Ladies and a big step forward personally to study academically.
“It’s a route that not many women’s players probably think about enough but it’s a starting point for a career outside of the game, whilst also maintaining the chance to develop as a player. I cannot wait to get started.”
The university will finance the selected players throughout their three-year degree courses, with their tuition fees paid in full providing they keep up with their schedule on the field and in the classroom.
The unique Football Journalism course is currently in its second year and the students have availed themselves of a plethora of working opportunities, including interviewing Gareth Southgate, the England head coach, and covering the Uefa Women’s European Championships in Holland last summer.
The course is the brainchild of Keith Perch, the head of journalism at the university and a former editor of the Derby Telegraph, and led by Peter Lansley, 13 years The Times’ Midlands football correspondent.
Perch said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Olivia to Derby and she has already displayed the kind of attitude we look for in our students by travelling up and down from Kent for trials and interviews.
“She will join a group of students who are developing towards their potential, both as students and people, by progressing through real-world learning. People in the industry tell us our students will graduate as highly-employable young football journalists.
“This is because of the amount of reporting out in the real world they are doing and the sheer quantity and quality of football people they are meeting every week through the contacts of our staff.”
Derby County Ladies CEO Duncan Gibb is equally delighted, with the club and university having got a scholarship off the ground that aids their WSL bid.
He said: “We can’t wait for Olivia to join us over the summer. With our bid for a place in the newly-formed Women’s Championship under consideration, Olivia couldn’t be joining us at a better time.
“I know that under the tutelage of Pete Lansley and the team on the Football Journalism course, Olivia is going to be in fantastic hands. For her to get a start on the career ladder – that for us at Derby County Ladies is what this is all about.”
Fox, currently studying a BTech Extended Diploma in Sport at Gillingham Girls Academy, said that the chance to play and write about football was not an opportunity she could turn down.
She said: “I came across the scholarship when scrolling through football news on Twitter and when I looked into it, the chance to continue my football journey and also write about football, was a no-brainer really.
“I’ll be able to focus and balance my studies with football, an important life skill in itself. Hopefully I will be able to offer Derby County Ladies something on the pitch with my versatility. I feel that this is just the start for me and I cannot wait to get going.”
Any budding football players/journalists interested in the scholarships for the 2019/20 season can contact firstname.lastname@example.org, sending your football CV and a short cover letter, or email@example.com.